Cameroon is one of the African countries with 156Gwh/yr of energy generated from thermal power plants of 207MW total capacity scattered around the country. This energy production is equivalent to 19360 tons of CO2 per year. This thermal plant energy augment the hydro power capacity to a total of 900MW generating 3650GWh per year, which is unreliable and cannot meet the electrical energy needs of Cameroon.
This has been confirmed by the Cameroon’s strategy for growth and employment paper of 2006 where the government emphasizes on the following objectives: (i) develop and expand the rural electrification program;(ii) develop and make accessible other forms of energy (solar, wind etc.); (iii) increase access to modern energy sources for domestic cooking; and (iv) take steps to overcome the energy deficit. Notwithstanding, only 40 percent of the urban and 10 percent of the rural areas in Cameroon is electrified. This is contributing a lot to the slow and under development of the rural areas which need energy for the creation of livelihood activities which can provide employment and boost the rural economy of Cameroon.
Cameroon has a heterogeneous terrain with mountains valleys and plains with the possibility of installing almost every renewable energy system in many areas. Apart from its topographic natures, other factors such as villages location to the national electricity grid, availability of resources which could be transformed by electricity disfavor the choice of national grid extension to rural areas. This also explains why some villages even after 20 years may not benefit from energetic extension program in Cameroon.
In other to contribute to local development, RCESD 2011 has been working with some local communities to install solar systems and micro hydro power plants. So far, 10 community solar home systems, 4 micro hydro power plants and one pico hydro power plant for electrification of few households, powering of refrigerators, charging of mobile phone and other electrical appliances at the service of the local communities in the South West, West, North West and central regions of Cameroon. Read more here
Even though these solar energy home systems work efficiently, the experience learned from these solar home systems is that the energy produced by the systems are usually small compared to the energetic needs of the local population considering the fact that: (1) some quarters arelocated further away from the installation point, (2) the energy produced is usually small due to the size of the installation, (3) almost everybody in the community would like to have electricity from these systems which will power television, other appliances and for the children to learn but this is usually not possible due to the above reason.
It would be nice to welcome individuals or interested organizations which would financed the installation of independent community solar home systems in many quarters to redress the problem raised above.